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SEUL: FWD: New Redhat plans

This just came out on redhat-announce. Looks...familiar. Omega and
I will contact them soon and try to organize things together. One
thing of interest is that they appear to have left Debian completely
out of the picture. But then, we don't have the whole story yet.

I just hope we don't have to start dealing with corporate practices here.


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Subject: Red Hat Advanced Development Labs
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Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998 21:40:32 -0500
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Research Triangle Park, NC -- January 12, 1998 -- Red Hat Software,
Inc. is pleased to announce the formation of a new division - Red Hat
Advanced Development Labs.  RHAD Labs has been established as an
independent development group to work on problems of usability of the
Linux operating system.  The founding members of the labs are Marc
Ewing, Michael Fulbright, and Carsten Haitzler.  Together they are
working with the members of the GNOME Project (http://www.gnome.org)
to develop a free graphical desktop environment for Linux.  For
details see http://www.labs.redhat.com.

Motivation Behind the Creation of RHAD Labs
- -------------------------------------------

The world of Linux software, and Free software in general, is missing
a critical component.  While the people working on Free software now
are making extraordinary progress in low-level technical and system
areas, the Linux user interface remains as one of the final
challenges.  Indeed, the progress of the technical and system
development has been so great that the market for Linux has expanded
to nearly its full potential on that basis.  The small number of
applications available for Linux is one of the large barriers to entry
for new Linux users.  This is being addressed slowly but surely by the
marketplace as it recognizes the size of the current Linux market, and
even by Free software developers as they desire to do more and more of
their work under Linux.  However, the effect of the appearance of
these new applications on the growth of Linux is severely limited by
the lack of an environment in which to run them that is accessible to
a larger audience.

The reason for this glaring hole in the Linux offering is fairly
obvious.  Much of Free software development is done out of necessity.
Basic kernel and system level operation is prerequisite to virtually
any computing environment.  In addition, work of this type is often
covered in the curriculum of Computer Science programs, so students
are inclined to work on these problems.  At the other end of the
spectrum is applications development.  Contrary to popular belief, a
good number of usable applications have been developed and released
under the GPL.  These have been developed because even Linux-literate
users need to read mail, draw pictures, etc.  However, these people
are perfectly comfortable using the Linux shell commands, modifying
window manager configuration files, etc.  It is these in-between
elements, the space between applications and system utilities, that is
now the greatest obstacle for Linux to overcome in order to expand its
user base.

RHAD Labs was established to address precisely this challenge.  The
lab will bring to bear Red Hat Software's considerable position and
experience in developing Free software within the community.  By
working on such problems as window manager configuration and control,
user configuration, file manipulation, Internet navigation, and other
areas that fall under the oft-used term "desktop", we hope to bring
Linux to a much wider audience.  This work will result in a quantum
leap in the usability of Linux for users who are not Linux-literate,
but nonetheless are demanding sophisticated and robust Internet
enabled operating systems.

RHAD Labs Operations
- --------------------

RHAD Labs' charter is to work with the Free software development
community to develop a highly accessible graphical computing
environment on Linux.  To further this goal we will:

* Develop Free software (in cooperation with the development community)
  to solve these usability problems.

* Provide resources (WWW, FTP, mailing-lists, etc) to others in
  the community working on these same problems.

* Promote the developments of all these efforts at trade shows,
  conferences, user group meetings, etc.

* Hold an annual conference for all the members of the community
  to get together, exchange ideas and present their work.

* Kill time on our N64.

Setting up a development team independent from the schedules of Red
Hat Linux development accomplishes at least two goals.  First, we can
react to and support the Free software development community (which
doesn't necessarily know or care about the Red Hat Linux development
schedule), to facilitate and augment the development of Free software.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, we are performing a big
experiment... What are the ways in which a commercial organization can
work within the Free software community?  How can this be done while
keeping the bean counters happy?  What is the best environment for
fostering the development of high quality Free desktop software?  This
is what RHAD Labs is all about.

To find out more about what and how we are doing, read about our
projects and keep an eye on the "Rumor Mill" at our web site

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